Lymphedema is a swelling of a body part caused by a build-up of protein rich fluid in the tissues.

Swelling after surgery or radiation is normal, but lymphedema often appears several weeks to several months after treatment has finished. Fluid can build up if there is damage to your lymph nodes by radiation or surgery. This means the lymphatic fluid in your body cannot drain as it should. There are no definitive answers as to why some people get lymphedema and others do not. However, there are things you can do to reduce your risk. Lymphedema is reversible if detected and treated early.

Resources to learn more about lymphedema and its management

Find help with lymphedema management

University Health Network patients can be assessed for lymphedema through the Cancer Rehabilitation and Survivorship Clinic.

The Odette Cancer Centre at Sunnybrook has its own Lymphedema Clinic.

If you are not a patient of one of these centres, or would like to seek help closer to home, you can search for a clinic that provides lymphedema treatment through our “Find a Program or Therapist” page, or through the Lymphedema Association of Ontario.

*NEW* Ask the Expert November 7-11, 2022

Join the Head and Neck Cancer Alliance’s Ask the Expert, through their online community support group, to learn more about how head and neck cancer treatments affect the lymphatic system. If you are not a member, it only takes a few minutes. Become a member now so you can participate in this informative Q & A! Dr. Angela Wicker-Ramos PT, DPT, CLT- LANA will be answering your questions about Caring for Your Lymphatic System Following Head and Neck Cancer Treatment. This Ask the Expert session will be available through HNCA’s online support community on Inspire.